In the wake of the deadly serial blasts in Sri Lanka that killed over 253 people on Easter Sunday, Bengaluru and Mysuru in southern Karnataka and Kerala have been put on high alert following inputs of major terror attacks in eight states.
“We have deployed additional forces in all sensitive areas, religious places, markets, malls, shopping plazas, multiplexes, airport, railway station, inter-state bus terminal and public places to prevent untoward incidents,” Bengaluru Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar told IANS.
Though the city was already on alert with extra vigil and more security for the April 18 Lok Sabha election in the state’s central and southern regions, the city and state police are not taking chances.
Hotels, pubs, restaurants, marriage halls, multi-complexes and supermarkets have been directed to step up the security with CCTV cameras, metal detectors and fire alarm.
Bengaluru has been on general alert for years as India’s tech hub with the presence of over 500 global IT firms, aerospace industries, Indian space agency ISRO, defence labs, Indian Institute of Science and state-run research and development institutes.
The city police held meetings with all stakeholders on Thursday to assess their preparedness for dealing with any unforeseen incident or attack.
“As a cosmopolitan city, Bengaluru attracts lots of people from all over the state and country for direct and indirect jobs, higher education, healthcare, services, manufacturing and tourism,” Kumar said.
The police also beefed up security and patrolling in Mysuru, about 150 km from Bengaluru, as thousands of tourists from across India and abroad visit the city as tourists.
Meanwhile, late on Friday, the Karnataka Police reportedly received an input about major terror attacks planned in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Puducherry, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
According to the police, a phone call was made by a lorry driver “claiming to have information of alleged terror attacks on the aforesaid states”. He claimed that the attacks will take place on trains. The input also claimed that there were 19 terrorists present at Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu.
However, the input was termed as hoax threat by the Karnataka police officials who said they have arrested a 65-year-old lorry driver identified as Sundara Murthy, who is also a retired Army personnel, for making the call.
Following the input, Kerala Police upped the ante against possible extremist activity in the state.
Senior officers of the National Investigation Agency had visited several places in Kerala as part of their sweeping probe against Zahran Hashim, the head of relatively unknown National Thowheeth Jamaath, an affiliate of the ISIS, as part of its investigation into his links in India.
Hashim was confirmed to have been killed in the attack on a Colombo hotel on Easter Sunday.
The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 am (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress.
Explosions were also reported from three five-star hotels — the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury in Colombo.